Happy Valentine's Day! Wow, Jacey's POV was a *huge* hit in Chapter 8! Glad everyone enjoyed it so much. To answer the question some of you asked, yes, definitely there will be some more chapters in Jacey's POV, and Mike's as well.

So I'm sort of hitting a stride with this and for the last couple chapters I've found an almost-weekly posting schedule. It seems to be an 8-day thing. I can't absolutely promise to stay on that schedule, but I am really going to try. Especially this week while they're together – it's flowing nicely and I'm keen to advance the story. :)

Now, to get back inside Jackie's head after a rotten start to his morning – mitigated by the kindness of a sweet boy:

-o-

Jack

My dad's birthday. I can't believe I let this sneak up on me. When he was alive I'd have already been in touch with Mom and my brothers a couple of weeks ago, figuring out what we would get him as a gift. This year, with him being gone, with my move and the new job – especially the SEC stuff – and with Jacey coming, I simply didn't think of his birthday at all. This morning as I stood in my kitchen with a glass of orange juice in one hand and the paper in the other, I was really happy and content. I had a great day yesterday with Jacey and a passionate night; then woke up with him this morning and kissed him before getting out of bed to start my day. Suddenly seeing the date on the paper was like being cold-cocked in the stomach. The glass was shattering on the floor before I realized I'd let go of it.

Jacey gave me just one more reason to be grateful he's with me this week – coming out to find me when he heard the glass break, comforting me by singing to me and then calming me down when I started to panic about my mom. Offering to arrange to have flowers sent to her was so thoughtful of him; and I really wish I could have stayed home with him today, rather than having to rush off to work as soon as I pulled my shit together. When he first found me in the living room I was a little embarrassed to be so emotional in front of him; but he seemed so comfortable with the role he took in soothing me that I got over the embarrassment pretty quickly.

I'm halfway downtown on the L before I remember that I really should have left him my credit card, or at least my card number, so he can have the flowers sent. I pull out my cell phone and send him a quick text to let him know that I'll call him with my card number as soon as I get to my office. Very quickly my phone buzzes.

I thought of that about five minutes after you left. Was going to call you in a bit. :) Jacey

His text makes me smile, if for no other reason than we're on the same wavelength. For the rest of the ride, I concentrate on getting myself into the right frame of mind for work. I still have this goddamn SEC nonsense for the rest of the week; for about the millionth time in the space of a week, I curse Eric Yorkie. Maybe if I push through it as hard as I can early in the week, I'll be able to get things wrapped up sooner. I would love to have Friday as just a normal workday. Perhaps I'll mention my plan to Mike this morning and see what he thinks. I'm sure Steven wouldn't mind getting out of our office a day early, either.

Jenna is the first person I see on my floor at work. She looks a bit too long at me as she asks how my weekend was; I checked my face and eyes in the mirrored interior of the elevator on the way up and thought they looked okay, but perhaps they're still a little red. I chat with her for a few minutes before making my way to my office with a cup of coffee in hand. It's twenty to nine, and Mike and Steven both tend to get here at about ten to, so I have a few minutes to call Jacey.

As I dial his number I wonder again what his ringtone is for me, and resolve to surreptitiously dial his cell phone, to hear the song and see the look on his face when he figures out what I'm doing. He answers quickly, his voice sympathetic and concerned. "Hey there," he says.

"Hey, sweet boy. Sorry I forgot to give you this before I left."

"No, it's fine," he replies. "I didn't think of it either."

"Do you have a pencil and paper?"

"Always."

I grin. Of course he does. "Okay - here's my Mastercard number…"

He repeats it back to me with the expiry date, then asks carefully, "Are you going to be okay?"

"Yes," I reassure him. "And thank you – for everything. The song was sweet."

"Mm-hmm," he hums, "just a little tune I thought was appropriate."

"Don't suppose you play that one on the guitar, do you?" I ask hopefully.

-o-

By the time noon rolls around I've not only talked to Mike about my hopes of wrapping up this process by Thursday, but Steven is onboard with it too. "So we're in agreement, then," I nod. "We'd all like to get this looked after no later than Thursday."

"Should we order in lunches and just work through?" Mike wonders.

"Any other day I'd be onboard," I nod, "but not today. I have an important call to make at noon and it may take most of my lunch hour. I'll order, though. If you guys want to have lunch delivered I'll get in on that with you."

They both agree, and soon we're immersed in our task. Following Yorkie's path through these files is rather engrossing, like watching a train wreck unfold, one unethical email at a time. Working in the boardroom with Mike and Steven, sometimes it becomes so silent that any little noise sounds like a shot going off. More than that, I'm also coming to the rather uncomfortable conclusion that the Fortunatus management had too little involvement, too little monitoring of their brokers' activities while Yorkie was working here. I'm certain the SEC will share that assessment, and I really hope that Fortunatus has already realized their flawed management in this. It will look much better to the SEC if new policies are already in place to ensure stricter monitoring by those who are ultimately accountable for the brokerage.

The morning quickly passes, and at noon our lunch order arrives. I take mine to my office and close my door. I take a few deep breaths before dialing mom's number.

When she answers she sounds subdued. "Hi Mom," I reply gently.

"Jackie." It comes out of her in a strangled voice, and immediately she's crying into the phone.

I fight my own tears, willing them not to make a reappearance at work. It's difficult with my mom sounding completely heartbroken on the other end of the line.

"Oh, Jackie," she says. "I miss him so much."

"I do too, Mom," I choke out. "He was a good father – the best. I miss him every day."

She doesn't answer, much too overcome by her grief. I sit silently, being "with" her though we're so far apart.

Long moments later she finally speaks. "He was a good man, Jackie. He was so proud of you and your brothers, and I know he'd be proud of you today, taking care of me like this. The flowers are just lovely."

"Are they?" I ask, glad they've already arrived.

"Yes, and I was going to call you at home tonight to thank you. I didn't want to interrupt you at work."

"I'm on my lunch," I admit, "but I should have called you last night. It snuck up on me…"

"Jackie, no," she interrupts. "It's hard enough on us all to miss him – please don't make it worse for yourself with needless guilt."

I sigh, not wanting to argue with her. "So what do the flowers look like?"

"Oh, they're beautiful, dear – mauves and purples and greens. All my favorite colors," she replies. "And when I saw your name on the card, it really brightened my day. I'll take a picture and email it to you," she assures me.

"Good, Mom. I'm glad you like them." We chat for just a few minutes longer before I tell her I should eat my lunch and get back to work.

Shortly after I hang up and start into my lunch, there's a knock on my door. Mike's face appears in the narrow window beside the door frame; I smile and wave him in. He opens the door and sticks his just his head in first.

"Sure it's okay?" he asks.

"You bet - I'm just eating my lunch," I tell him.

He comes in, closing the door behind him. "You were on the phone when I came by before. I didn't want to interrupt." He sits at the chair across my desk and looks curiously at me before asking carefully, "Are you okay?"

Rather than answering directly, I query, "Why do you ask?"

"You seem…off, I guess. Not quite yourself today," he replies.

"Ah," I reply noncommittally. I continue eating in silence for a few minutes; and during that time Mike doesn't push, or even look expectant. After a moment or two he gets up and wanders to my office window, looking out at the tall buildings that surround around my 39th-floor office. Finally I provide him with a quiet answer. "Today is my father's birthday."

Mike spins on his heel to face me. "Your dad has passed away, right?"

"Last spring," I confirm.

"Oh," he breathes, understanding. "It's the first one since…" he says, not finishing the sentence.

"Yeah. It was too early for me to call my mom in California before I left this morning. That's the phone call I was on when you came by earlier."

He comes to stand beside me where I sit at my desk, and takes my hand in both of his. I look up and his face is full of sympathy. "I'm sorry, Jack," he says simply.

With a grim smile, I nod in thanks. He holds my hand a moment longer before releasing it. He steps back, saying, "I'll leave you alone."

I shake my head. "Actually, I'd like it if you stayed."

He stops and examines me thoughtfully. "Really?"

"It's nice to have someone here," I tell him honestly.

"Then I'll stay," he says and reseats himself across from my desk. Fortunately he seems to know exactly what I need. He doesn't push for conversation or even really look at me much. He picks up an industry magazine from my inbox and begins to leaf through it. Having him here is pleasant. It also gives me a reason to fight the tears that have threatened since I called my mother.

Soon it's almost one o'clock. Mike checks his watch and says quietly, "Well…we should probably…"

I nod and drain my water glass. "I'll be there in a few," I tell him. After he leaves I brush my teeth then rejoin my colleagues, diving back in to the task at hand.

At the end of the day when I go back to my office to grab my coat and scarf, Mike tags along. He hangs around for a few minutes until I'm ready to go; he stands, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, looking uncomfortable, as though something's on the tip of his tongue.

"Is something wrong, Mike?" I finally ask.

He grimaces. "Nothing's wrong. I'm just trying to figure out how to word this…"

"Whatever it is, please be direct," I encourage him, silently steeling myself to receive some criticism about the afternoon's proceedings.

"Would you like to go out for a drink?" he asks. I gape, taken completely off-guard. Hastily he adds, "Not as a date or anything. You're my client, I'm your lawyer – I can't ask you out. I mean, I can, but it wouldn't be a good idea. But I know you're new to the area and I thought maybe you could use a friend to talk to, and…I'm rambling."

"Oh," I reply, still surprised, but touched by his gesture. "That's really thoughtful." I smile at him for a moment and he begins to put on his coat. "But I can't tonight." He nods his acquiescence before I add, "I have someone waiting for me at home."

He grins. "A cat?"

I shake my head, rolling my eyes at him. "No."

"Dog?"

"Nope."

"Collection of rare and dangerous exotic pets you smuggled into the country illegally?"

This makes me laugh out loud. "No! I have a houseguest," I reply before my conscience pricks me. Jacey is so much more than a houseguest. "I've been seeing someone long-distance and he's here to visit over spr—" I stop quickly, but not fast enough to cover what I was about to say.

"Spring break?" Mike asks with obvious amusement. "Please tell me he's a professor." I slowly shake my head and now he's the one who's laughing. "A college guy? Wow, Jack – guess it's a good thing I wasn't asking you on a date. I'm clearly much too old to be your type."

I scowl a bit as we walk together to the bank of elevators. I've never been particularly good at being teased. Rather than make a retort that will paint me as a poor sport, I remain silent. Mike doesn't know Jacey at all - he has no idea how sweet he is, how caring and mature and intelligent he is. What he did for me this morning…what he does to me every night.

After the elevator doors close and we begin the descent to ground level, I tell Mike, "Jacey and I will be going out to the clubs one night this week – probably Thursday. Why don't you join us? You can meet him."

He considers for a moment before nodding. "Sure," he replies. "I haven't been out in a few weeks."

"Great," I reply, feeling a bit smug. Once he meets Jacey he'll understand what the draw is.

Beside me he mutters with a snicker, "Jacey? Really?"

-o-

Before long I'm walking up my street. The days are getting longer and longer. This past Friday when I got home the sun was just slipping over the horizon, but as we moved to Daylight Savings Time this weekend, this evening is still quite light. The snow banks have dropped considerably in the last week, with a stretch of mild sunny weather. I'm glad to see them go, knowing the first day of spring is only a week away.

I don't stop to pick up dinner as I normally do, having gotten a text from Jacey partway through the afternoon that he's looking after it. I wonder what he's ordered for me. Suddenly my stomach growls and it seems like it's been ages since lunch.

I open the door to my apartment and step in, quietly closing it behind me. An utterly appetizing aroma fills my senses and my mouth immediately starts to water. I stand in the foyer for a moment silently listening, attempting to ascertain where Jacey is. For a moment the only sound is the music playing from my stereo, though it's not my iPod currently sitting in the dock - it must be Jacey's. The dining table is set for two. A moment later I hear some movement in the kitchen.

"Jacey?" I call as I remove my shoes. A second later he steps out of the kitchen, a warm smile on his face.

"Hey, Jackie," he greets me. "Welcome home."

"Welcome home is right!" I agree. "It smells fantastic in here." I hang up my coat and cross the room to greet him properly.

After a tender kiss and a hug, he says, "You smell a pot of spicy Texas chili. Slightly modified to be meatless."

"You cooked?" I gape.

"Didn't you get my text?" he asks with surprise. "I mean, I know you didn't text back but I figured you were just in the thick of it…"

"No, I got it," I assure him. "But when you said you'd look after dinner, I thought you meant you'd look after picking it up."

"No, no," he says with a slight scoff. "Tonight's not a takeout night." He punctuates his point with a firm shake of his head. "This is a comfort food night." He turns and strolls back to the kitchen and I follow him. On a baking sheet, biscuits are waiting to go into the oven, which Jacey now turns on to preheat. Cheese is grated in a bowl; in another bowl is what looks like sour cream.

"Jacey, this is…" I struggle for an appropriate adjective. He beams, and I pull him close. "Thank you," I whisper.

"You're welcome," he murmurs before my lips meet his. We kiss softly at first, then with a growing intensity. I back him up to the counter and he pulls himself up to sit, wrapping his legs around me and pulling me as close as the cupboards allow.

Too soon, the slight hum the oven makes when heating up, falls silent. I pull away slightly but keep my forehead resting against his. We're both breathing heavily, and Jacey grins. "Wow."

"Hold that thought," I tell him, and lean to open the oven. I slide the baking sheet in and close the door. "How long?" I ask, my finger poised over the timer.

"Set it for twelve and I'll check them," Jacey replies. I do, then move back to stand between his knees. As much as I would love to pick up where we left off, he has gone to far too much trouble for dinner to be ruined because I can't keep my hands to myself.

Changing the subject, I remark, "I didn't know you cooked."

"I've been cooking since I was old enough to be trusted with the stove on my own," he replies, curling one finger as best he can into my close-cropped hair. "Mom didn't usually close the shop till six on weeknights. From the time I was thirteen or so, I'd come home and do my homework, then I'd get dinner started. Easy stuff at first – baked potatoes, frozen stuff. Until I started to get sick of those things and decided to learn how to cook for real."

I'm in awe. Growing up with a stay-at-home mom, I could barely boil water when I went off to college. "You came home and had the discipline to do your homework every night? And then made dinner?"

He shrugs nonchalantly. "We were a team. If I didn't start dinner Mom had to, and then we'd be eating late. We both get grouchy when we're hungry. I was cooking to save lives." He grins at the exaggeration. "Tonight I just wanted to take care of you," he adds. His slender hands gently cup my face. "How are you doing?" he inquires kindly.

I sigh. "I'm doing okay. I called my Mom at lunch and she was pretty emotional, which made it difficult for me to keep it together. But she loved the flowers. She's going to take a picture and email it to me - she probably already has, in fact." I stroke the long hair that rests against his neck. "Thank you, Jacey. For arranging the flowers, and for being here for me this morning. If you weren't here I'd have been a complete mess."

He doesn't reply, just pulls me tight to him again and, as he's still sitting on the counter, he rests his cheek on the top of my head. My head nestles perfectly into the spot under his chin. Silently we hold each other for long moments until the timer beeps.

"Dinner time," Jacey remarks quietly and kisses my head before I pull away. He hops down and puts on an oven mitt, opening up the oven to check the biscuits. "Perfect," he comments, more to himself than anything.

"What can I do to help?" I ask.

"Um…well, I guess you can get whatever you'd like to drink, and would you mind pouring me a glass of ice water as well?"

"Sure," I reply, looking after his request as he pulls a green salad out of the fridge. He pours vinaigrette over it and places it on the table. Looking down, I realize that an oily vinaigrette and chili will spell doom for my bright white dress shirt or my light blue silk tie, if I spill. "I'm going to go change before I eat," I tell Jacey.

"Probably a not a bad idea," he says with a smile. I head to my room where I hang up my suit and tie, and toss my shirt into the laundry. I doff my briefs as well, then slip on a pair of board shorts and a t-shirt. I have steam radiators and it is always warm in my apartment – often too warm, in fact. Shorts have become my usual at-home attire, even in the dead of winter.

By the time I return to the dining room, a large pot sits on a mat in the middle of the table, billows of steam rolling from it. The biscuits are on a plate and the cheese and sour cream are ready, as is the salad. "Jacey, this smells amazing. Thanks for making it. And thanks for making it vegetarian."

"My pleasure," he smiles. "But if my mother ever hears I made her chili without beef, I'll deny it."

I chuckle. "Understood. Shall we?"

The chili tastes even better than it smells. Jacey wasn't kidding on the spicy part – fortunately I love spicy food – but the sour cream helps balance out the heat. It is, as Jacey said, a comfort food, and even more comforting is his thoughtfulness in looking after me. He holds up the conversation during dinner, asking about the project in which I'm immersed at work. I tell him as much as I can within the bounds of confidentiality, adding, "Originally we intended for the project to wrap up on Friday, but I'm actually hoping we'll finish Thursday. It'll mean knocking ourselves out all week, but it would be great to have a lighter day on Friday. And then next week I can start what they actually hired me for – brokering."

"You really love what you do, don't you?" he says, more of a statement than a question. I nod. "You're fortunate to have found something you love. My mom is the same way, especially since she has her own shop. She says it doesn't feel like a job to her."

"It's definitely a job to me," I clarify, "in that I keep it separate from my personal life. But it's exhilarating."

"Exhilarating? Really?"

I can't help laughing at his highly skeptical expression. "Yes, really," I grin, reaching out to quickly squeeze his hand. "Taking a calculated risk and having it pay off is a huge high. A legal one, at that. And the bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff…the bigger the high."

He looks into his bowl of chili, stirring slowly as though deep in thought. I watch him for a few moments, eating in silence, before I ask, "Did I say something wrong?"

He looks up, a bit taken aback. "No, you didn't. Why?"

"You're very quiet all of a sudden."

He resumes gazing at his chili. "Oh. Just thinking."

"Yes?" I prompt.

"Well…I was wondering…about taking risks. Is that only in your work life?" he asks hesitantly.

The question takes me off-guard. My first reaction is to be coy, act like I don't know what he's getting at, but immediately I realize Jacey deserves better. "Um…are you asking whether I take risks in my personal life as well?"

His eyes are still glued to the bowl. "Yeah, I guess I am."

"Well…" I give thought to the answer. "My personal life is a bit different. A lot different, actually. I haven't taken many risks in my personal life. Risk is…daunting."

"Is that why you decided against telling Ashton how you feel?"

I shake my head. "That's different. It would have been a disaster. Ashton's straight – there's no way it would have resulted in a happy ending for anyone, and the outcome would certainly have been a strain to our friendship. I never even considered making that mistake."

"So you don't regret not telling him," he concludes. I shake my head decidedly. "Even though the payoff could have been a huge high, as you said?"

"Remember I also said calculated risk," I remind him. "That means being circumspect." He nods slowly. "What about you?" I ask brightly, attempting to infuse some humor into what has become a very serious conversation. "Any big scary choices in your life?"

He finally looks at me with a half-smirk. "I'm here, aren't I?"

I respond with a weak smile. We hold each other's gaze for a few beats longer, then with a cheerfulness I don't feel, I say, "Well, I'm stuffed. All done with your bowl?" He looks down at his dishes and nods, starting to get up. "Since you made such a great dinner, I'll do the dishes," I tell him. He starts to protest but I insist. "No way. Let me do this. Shoo!" I slap him gently on the ass. He winks and starts away but I catch his wrist, stopping him. "Hey – thank you. Dinner was great, and it was really nice to be taken care of." He smiles, a genuine smile for the first time since we started dinner. "You really are a sweet boy. My sweet boy. I'm glad you took the risk," I finish simply.

"I am too." He presses my knuckles to his lips before smiling and turning to head to the living room. I hear the music stop and the TV turn on just before I start the water running in the sink. It takes me a few minutes to put some leftovers into a small plastic container to take for my lunch tomorrow, and the rest into a larger one to put into the fridge then to wash up the few dishes we have. I ask Jacey if he wants some tea, and I end up making a pot for the two of us. I don't drink coffee at night as it makes it difficult for me to sleep but a cup of chai is one of my favorite things. A few moments later I carry a tray with the pot of tea, a couple of cups, milk and sugar to the coffee table.

Jacey is sitting on the couch with his sketch pad. The TV is on Jeopardy, of all things. Jacey is murmuring the answers a second before the contestants do. He glances up at me and when he sees me watching him with amusement, he looks a bit sheepish. "Sorry…Jeopardy. Guilty pleasure."

I laugh out loud now. "I had no idea!"

"You can change it if you want," he grins.

"No way," I reply, sitting beside him and pouring the tea into our cups. "I wouldn't miss this."

Over the rest of the half-hour, Jacey impresses me. He seems to be a font of information on a variety of subjects. What's cool is that this I the first time I've seen this side of him. It's not as though he walks around spouting factoids. When Jeopardy is over we watch a few more shows, usual primetime fare, chatting throughout. There is no hint of the uncomfortable conversation we had at dinner. He continues sketching and I sneak glances at his sketchpad. To my disappointment he doesn't look to be working on the sketch of me any longer, but just on random doodles instead.

Around 8:30 he gets up, setting his sketchpad on the table and sauntering out of the room. I assume he's on his way to the bathroom, but when he hasn't returned by 8:45 I get up and head down the hall. There's a light on my bedroom; it looks like my bedside lamp. I get as far as the bedroom door before I'm stopped in my tracks.

Jacey is standing in my front bay window, looking out into the street. His shirt is gone. He's wearing jeans and…I gulp…the cowboy hat. He turns to face me, a mischievous grin on his face, and something glinting silver catches my eye – an enormous belt buckle.

I give a low whistle in appreciation. Jacey hooks his thumbs into the waistband of his very low-slung jeans and – it can't be called anything else – moseys towards me. There's a necklace of some sort around his neck – no, it's a bolo tie, but the sliding piece is all the way down to the ends of the string so it looks like a necklace. A few feet away, he stops, shifting his weight to one hip, and raises his hand, with one finger pushing his hat back a bit from under the brim. In the broadest Texas accent ever, he drawls, "I think it's tahhhm to cowboy up."

"Jesus fucking Christ," I mutter under my breath. "That's…"

"Yeah?" he prompts, his character slipping marginally.

"That's the best goddamned thing I've ever seen. No exaggeration."

"Then you've never seen yourself in a suit, all ready for work," he retorts with a grin, the machismo dropped entirely now. "Because that's the best thing I've ever seen."

I trace my fingers down his smooth abs to the dark shadow of hair that is just visible at the top of his jeans. He hums softly and closes his eyes, focusing on the sensation. "Where did you get this belt buckle?" I ask in an undertone.

"Won it," he answers, his eyes still closed as my fingers continue a slow exploration behind the waistband of his jeans.

"Like, in a rodeo?" He nods wordlessly. "What event?"

"Steer wrestling," he answers, and abruptly he grabs me, lifting me from my feet and tossing me onto the bed. The movement is so quick I'm on my back almost before I realize what's happening. He pins me down to the bed – not that I'm trying to escape – with a hand on each of my biceps, his thighs straddling my own, and hovers over me. His blue-grey eyes smolder as he stares into mine. The abrupt shift in the atmosphere leaves me breathless and excited.

He removes his hands from my arms and sits back on his heels, his hands finding the laces on my board shorts. Very quickly he removes them, discovering my commando state. His face lights up and he slides his body a bit closer to my feet before leaning down to take my rapidly-hardening cock into his mouth.

"Uhhh," is my eloquent response to his very welcome attack. He works his magic on me with those lips that look exquisite wrapped around my rigid length. I pull off my shirt and now I'm completely naked beneath him. His hands slide underneath me, his palms splayed open as he kneads my ass and then caresses the backs of my thighs. His tongue does amazing things to my glans and frenulum, and all the while the straw cowboy hat sits atop his head, the soft waves of hair flowing from beneath it.

He releases me, flashing a wicked smile, and gets up to stand beside the bed. His hand slides down over the front of his jeans, squeezing his very obvious erection. Slowly he undoes the enormous buckle and slides the belt out of his jeans. He loosens one button at a time until the jeans fall to the floor, no longer able to stay on his slim hips. He, too, is naked beneath his jeans; his cock, once free, stands rock-hard at a ninety-degree angle from his body. All he's wearing now is the hat and the necklace-tie thing.

He leans down to pull a condom and lube out of my night table drawer then climbs up onto the bed to kneel beside me. After sheathing me with the condom he lubes us both thoroughly. There can be no doubt what he's planning. He straddles my hips and positions himself over my cock. Not breaking our gaze, he slowly but steadily pushes down without pausing until I am fully inside him. When he has relaxed his legs and his weight is fully resting on me, he places his hands on my pecs and starts to rock back and forth. The sensation is beyond amazing, and what's more, I'm completely getting off on him taking charge like this. I mean, sure we've had sex in this position before, but him tossing me onto the bed was totally unexpected and so fucking hot.

Each time his hips thrust forward his cock bobs over my stomach. I can't leave it there, all by itself. I grab the lube and squeeze a bit into my hand. I slide my slick fingers around the base of the glans, and up and down the underside of the shaft, teasing gently. Above me I feel Jacey's ass muscles flex a few times, an involuntary reaction to the teasing of his hyper-sensitive skin. He emits a few soft moans when I glide over one or two sweet spots.

After a few moments, though, he takes hold of my wrists and moves my hands to his hips. He adjusts the angle at which he's moving, beginning a more up-and-down motion, and my hands on his hips pull him down hard against me. I bite my tongue against my usual tendency, which is to be pretty verbal during sex. This has become Jacey's show - he's the one in control. I find myself hoping that his new confidence will extend to some dirty talk, because I would enjoy hearing it. So much.

The increased force of our joining certainly elicits louder sounds of pleasure from us both. We each have a light sheen of sweat covering us from the exertion and pleasure. The pendant that hangs from the black cord around Jacey's neck, slaps against his chest each time he plunges down over me and the hat stays in place. My hands are still on his hips and so his own hands come up to stroke his cock.

Then, just when I'm starting to think my hopes won't happen, he starts talking. So softly at first that I can't understand him, but with increasing volume and confidence as he continues. "Jackie...ohhhh...you're so hard...I love it when you're inside me...you stretch me so well..."

Of course, hearing it accelerates my already-fast-approaching point of no return. "God, Jacey...you're so fucking amazing. I don't think I can hold back much longer..."

"Don't hold back. Just tell me when you're going to come," he urges, grasping his cock more firmly and stroking it with a twist of his wrist.

Only seconds later I warn him that I'm right on the edge. He quickly reaches out with his free hand to pinch my nipple, and then the edge is just a memory as my pleasure explodes into a million dancing sparks around my body. He's still slamming his ass down hard, milking me with his hot, tight embrace. I know he's coming when his body stiffens and he begins to spasm around me. His hot cum lands on my chest and shoulders. He cries out loudly, unintelligible. He is no longer capable of keeping his rhythm, and so, gripping his hips tight, I thrust up into him a few more times, prolonging his pleasure and mine. One last deep, hard thrust, and we both hold there for a long moment, until we collapse simultaneously into a sweaty, panting heap.

I pull out but hold him close, not letting him slide away or even off my chest. I do remove his hat and, reaching up over my head, hang it off the post on my side of the headboard. "Thank you, Jacey," I murmur, hugging him tightly. He simply hums in reply. We are completely satiated and exhausted.

After a few minutes I say, "Hey, let me up, I'll get us something to clean up with."

"No," he disagrees, pushing himself up. "That's my job tonight. You stay there."

I hope up my hands in surrender. While he's in the bathroom I dispose of the condom and then lie back to wait. He returns with a warm wash cloth and a soft towel. He cleans my chest and shoulders, though he does allow me to dry myself off. When I'm clean and dry he climbs back into the bed, pulling the covers up over both of us.

I turn out my bedside lamp and we settle in together, sliding into the position that has become natural to both of us – me on my back, him snuggled into the crook of my arm, his head on my shoulder. I'm so relaxed and tired that I know I could drift off easily, but before I do...

"Jacey?"

"Yeah?"

"You make a seriously hot cowboy."

"Thanks."

"Did you really compete in steer wrestling?"

"Jack, until I turned 17 I was 5'5" and weighed 120 pounds soaking wet. So...no."

I consider that for a second. "Regardless, you're pretty amazing in the saddle."

"That was a little scary for me, actually," he remarks. "Well, not scary...but I've never taken control like that. It was..." He struggles for the right words. "I guess you could say it was a calculated risk."

His words bring back the discomfort of tonight's earlier conversation, but only for a brief moment; because it says a lot that he felt comfortable enough to take this risk with me. "Calculated risk...huge payoff...huge high, am I right?"

I feel his facial muscles flex into a smile, and his arm that lies across my chest squeezes me tight. "Good night, Jackie."

"Night, Jacey."

-o-

Thanks to lovelypenguin for the visual created by the expression "cowboy up". Ohhhhh, yeah. I wracked my brain for an appropriate song for this chapter, but as I am not a country music fan...and most songs about how sexy cowboys are, are sung by women...I had to go with "You Can Leave Your Hat On" by Joe Cocker. I've posted the Jacey-in-cowboy-hat pic on my blog before, but it's there again. You know, for ease of reference. :)

I seriously intended to have the ringtone question solved in this chapter, but the dinnertime conversation seemed to preclude such capers. Jacey has a mind of his own. Next chapter, I PROMISE.

As you may know, Shannon mozzer0906, recently resigned from the Fictionators blog and took a step back from the fandom. Despite the lack of public presence, she's still one of my biggest supporters and best friends. She was my muse for OTT – it wouldn't have been the same without her. xoxo

Thanks to my lobster Bethie, AKA EJ Santry, who is my one-woman preview team for Deep Dish. Love and smooches. 3